BOOKS by SUB-SAHARA AFRICAN FEMALE WRITERS

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"Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

About the Book: As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love – what happens after that – is the subject of this book. A good old fashioned romance with lots of heartbreak, and hair – Americanah is a novel that aimed to say everything anew on race, love and hair from a very, decidedly, Nigerian and African perspective.  It tackles African brain drain, blogging, diasporans returning to Africa, US and British strains of racism – and best of all, is laugh out loud funny in more places than we can count.

About the Author: Chimamanda Adichie has been called “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [that] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. She is the author of three novels, Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013), of a short story collection, The Thing around Your Neck (2009). She has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction (2007) and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2008).

"Changes: A Love Story" by Ama Ata Aidoo

"Changes: A Love Story" by Ama Ata Aidoo

About the Book: Before Carrie in Sex and the City – there was Esi, the career-centred heroine of Ama Ata Aidoo’s 1991 novel; a woman who divorces her first husband and marries into a polygamist union, all the while working hard to make it in a challenging modern day, Accra; sumptuously written and totally engrossing, Changes explores the complex world in which the lives of professional working women have changed sharply, but the cultural assumptions of men’s lives have not. This is an immensely unputdownable book.

About the Author: Ama Ata Aidoo: Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, née Christina Ama Aidoo (born 23 March 1940, Saltpond) is a Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic, who is also a former Minister of Education in the Ghana government. Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, née Christina Ama Aidoo (born 23 March 1940, Saltpond) is a Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic, who is also a former Minister of Education in the Ghana government.

"Our Wife" by Karen King-Aribisala

"Our Wife" by Karen King-Aribisala

About the Book Our Wife is the author’s first complete published work of short stories; the work has won the best first book prize (African Region) Commonwealth Price 1990/91.

About the Author: Karen King-Aribisala: A Nigerian novelist, and short story writer. Her stories, Our Wife and Other Stories won the 1991 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Best First Book Africa, and her novel the hangman’s game won 2008 Best Book Africa. She is Associate Professor of English at the University of Lagos. She won grants from the Ford Foundation, British Council, Goethe Institute, and the James Michener Foundation.

"Everything Good Will Come" by Sefi Atta

"Everything Good Will Come" by Sefi Atta

About the Book: Everything Good Will Come is a coming of age novel about a girl growing into a woman in postcolonial Nigeria and England. Throughout the novel the main character, Enitan, is faced with various issues such as family troubles, rape, cheating boyfriends, and imprisonment. Beyond Enitan’s personal entanglements, the novel is a biting commentary on post-independence governments in Nigeria and tensions between Igbo (Biafrans), Yoruba, and Hausa ethnic groups after the Biafrian War.

About the Author: Nigerian-born Sefi Atta’s short stories have appeared in journals like Los Angeles Review and Mississippi Review and have won prizes from Zoetrope and Red Hen Press. Her radio plays have been broadcast by the BBC. She is the winner of PEN International’s 2004/2005 David TK Wong Prize and in 2006, her debut novel Everything Good Will Come was awarded the inaugural Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa.

"So Long a Letter" by Mariama Ba

"So Long a Letter" by Mariama Ba

About the Book: This novel is a perceptive testimony to the plight of articulate women who live in social milieux dominated by attitudes and values that deny them their proper place. It is a sequence of reminiscences, some wistful, some bitter, recounted by a recently widowed Senegalese school teacher. The letter, addressed to an old friend, is a record of her emotional struggle for survival after her husband’s abrupt decision to take a second wife. Although his action is sanctioned by Islam, it is a calculated betrayal of his wife’s trust and a brutal rejection of their life together.

About the Author: Born in Dakar, she was raised a Muslim, but at an early age came to criticise what she perceived as inequalities between the sexes resulting from African traditions. Raised by her traditional grandparents, she had to struggle even to gain an education, because they did not believe that girls should be taught. Bâ later married a Senegalese Member of Parliament, Obèye Diop, but divorced him and was left to care for their nine children.

"Daughters of Africa" by Margaret Busby

"Daughters of Africa" by Margaret Busby

About the Book: Arranged chronologically, this anthology of writing spans from the Ancient Queen Hatshepsut and the Queen of Sheba, to popular contemporaries such as Maya Angelou, Alice Walker and Buchi Emecheto, and includes many lesser known writers and anonymous traditional works that exemplify the oral tradition handed down through the generations. This anthology brings together women from across the globe and besides translations from African languages it includes work originally written in Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

About the Author: Margaret Busby OBE (Nana Akua Ackon) Editor was born in Ghana, of part-Caribbean parentage, and educated in Britain. On graduating from London University in the 1960s she became the UK’s youngest and first Black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby Ltd, of which she was Editorial Director for 20 years. She works as a writer, editor, consultant, reviewer and broadcaster. Publications she has written for include The Guardian, Independent, Observer, New Statesman, and Wasafiri and The Times Literary Supplement.

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

About the Book: The semi-autobiographical novel focuses on the story of a Rhodesian family in post-colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s. The novel attempts to illustrate the dynamic themes of race, class, gender, and cultural change during the post-colonial conditions of present-day Zimbabwe.

About the Author: Dangarembga was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), in 1959 but spent part of her childhood in England. She began her education there, but concluded her A-levels at Hartzell High school, a missionary school in the Rhodesian town of Umtali (now Mutare). She later studied medicine at Cambridge University but returned home soon after Zimbabwe was internationally recognised in 1980.

"Woman at point zero"by Nawal El Saadawi

"Woman at point zero"by Nawal El Saadawi

About the Book: All the men I did get to know, every single man of them, have filled me with but one desire: to lift my hand and bring it smashing down on his face. But because I am a woman I have never had the courage to lift my hand. And because I am a prostitute, I hid my fear under layers of make-up’. So begins Firdaus’ story, leading to her grimy Cairo prison cell, where she welcomes her death sentence as a relief from her pain and suffering. Born to a peasant family in the Egyptian countryside, Firdaus suffers a childhood of cruelty and neglect. Her passion for education is ignored by her family, and on leaving school she is forced to marry a much older man. Following her escapes from violent relationships, she finally meets Sharifa who tells her that ‘A man does not know a woman’s value the higher you price yourself the more he will realise what you are really worth’ and leads her into a life of prostitution. Desperate and alone, she takes drastic action.

About the Author: Nawal El Saadawi: is an Egyptian feminist writer, activist, physician and psychiatrist. She has written many books on the subject of women in Islam, paying particular attention to the practice of female genital cutting in her society. She is founder and president of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and co-founder of the Arab Association for Human Rights. She has been awarded honorary degrees on three continents. In 2004, she won the North-South prize from the Council of Europe. She is the founder of Health Education Association and the Egyptian Women Writers Association; she was Chief Editor of Health Magazine in Cairo, Egypt and Editor of Medical Association Magazine.

"The Joys of Motherhood" by B. Emecheta

"The Joys of Motherhood" by B. Emecheta

About the Book: The basis of the novel is the “necessity for a woman to be fertile and above all to give birth to sons”. It tells the tragic story of Nnu-Ego, daughter of Nwokocha Agbadi and Ona, who had a bad fate with childbearing.

About the Author: Buchi Emecheta is a Nigerian novelist who has published over 20 books. Her themes of child slavery, motherhood, female independence and freedom through education have won her considerable critical acclaim and honours, including an Order of the British Empire in 2005. Emecheta once described her stories as “stories of the world… [Where]… women face the universal problems of poverty and oppression, and the longer they stay, no matter where they have come from originally, the more the problems become identical.”

"Black Mamba Boy" by Nadifa Mohamed

"Black Mamba Boy" by Nadifa Mohamed

About the Book: Long listed for the Orange Prize and winner of the Betty Trask Award. A stunning novel set in 1930s Somalia spanning a decade of war and upheaval, all seen through the eyes of a small boy alone in the world. Aden, Yemen, 1935; a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers and home to Jama, a ten year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world. Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of East Africa are preparing for battle. Yet Jama cannot rest until he discovers whether his father, who has been absent from his life since he was a baby, is alive somewhere. And so begins an epic journey which will take Jama north through Djibouti, war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt. And from there, aboard a ship transporting Jewish refugees just released from German concentration camps, across the seas to Britain and freedom. This story of one boy’s long walk to freedom is also the story of how the Second World War affected Africa and its people; a story of displacement and family.

About the Author: Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa in 1981 while Somalia was falling deeper into dictatorship. In 1986 she moved to London with her family in what she thought was a temporary move but a couple of years later it became permanent as war broke out in Somalia. She was educated in London and went to Oxford to study History and Politics and she finally returned to Hargeisa, now in the new Republic of Somaliland, in 2008. She lives in London and is currently working on her second novel.

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